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The chief executive of Premiership Rugby has blasted the scheduling of next summer's British and Irish Lions tour, labelling it "not sustainable".
Mark McCafferty was speaking about the tour of New Zealand in 2017 which will see the Lions play 10 matches in total, a lengthy schedule after a long domestic season.
In addition to the length of the tour, criticism has also been aimed at the fact that the squad will depart before the PRO12 and Premiership finals take place while the first test takes place on the same day as the Top 14 decider in France.
Although McCafferty concedes that it is too late to do anything to change next year's tour, he has sounded a warning shot for the future arrangements.
"It is going to be very difficult next year," he told the Observer. "It is a punishing schedule and I do not know why it was signed up to. Ten games over that period is a lot and there will be difficulty for players coming off that tour going into the 2017/18 Premiership.
"The Lions is in the mix as we move towards the season structure post-2019. It is a fabulous brand and an important part of the economics for the southern hemisphere.
"It should carry on but it is not sustainable that players can go through a club and international season, be involved in that scale of tour and then be in shape for the following season.
"People involved in the Lions need to listen. Do you need to play that number of midweek games when the economics are driven off the back of three Tests in the main?
"Nothing can be done about next year but then the agreement will be up and things need to be worked out."